Infinite Genie

On 42nd street in New York City, nestled among blocks of iconic Broadway theaters, sits your chance to battle ghosts. Really. Housed at Madame Tussauds, a wax museum filled with famous people and a tourist favorite , is a not-to-be-missed virtual-reality game, called the “Ghostbusters Experience.” In it, you now snap on a proton pack and get to the business of blasting evils ghosts, like the ghostbusters in the movie. That’s not the only public place in the Big Apple where you can walk into virtual worlds. There’s also Samsung 837, a digital playground in Chelsea’s meat-packing district, offering two full floors of VR experiences.

Actually, you don’t have to go that far to experience VR for yourself. Your living room will do. You can order a Google Cardboard VR headset on Amazon and download any number of apps to easily try some fun and immersive experiences. Here are a couple suggestions to get a glimpse of some great 360 video and VR experiences your first VR on: The New York Times, WEVR, or Jaunt in VR.

There is no putting the virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) genie back in the bottle. Any chance that you or kids you know are into “Pokémon GO?

It can all be a little overwhelming: The hype. The reality. Trying to figure out how to try VR/AR, what to use, and how to do it. Trust. It will all get easier. Think back to those brick-size cellphones first released in the early nineties. Today’s smartphones offer 100x the functionality from text, emails, internet to actual face to face and they have gotten easier and easier to use.

After nearly two years in this emerging space, I don’t know anyone who can say with certainty what exactly this technology looks like in 2025; any more than most people would have guessed in 1990 that by 2007 the iPhone would arrive, changing in mass how we live and work. We are in the early days of VR/AR being available, accessing it and developing, and a steady stream of new hardware and software hitting the marketplace from a growing number of innovators.

Our human curiosity will drive the future of VR/AR forward.

Hundreds, in not thousands of tens of thousands of people across the globe are working on developing this industry. I think we can agree, the flow of people interested and having the talent to contribute to this evolution will continue to grow.

If you map its progress against a human’s average life expectancy of 78 years, in “dog years” style, that puts VR/AR/mixed reality (MR) at two years old. The now arguably bulky headsets in the current premium experiences of HTC Vive or Facebook’s Oculus Rift will quickly evolve into something sleek. Perhaps glasses or contacts of some sort, even none as some futurists have predicted, if we’re talking about AR.

There is always something next. We stand today at the precipice of an unknown world: the computing power of VR/AR.

I’m a big fan of a former colleague, entrepreneur Sophia Dominguez, who is the CEO and co-founder of AllThingsVR and now SVRF a VR search engine. She says when it comes to VR/AR/MR, it doesn’t matter what we call it. The language we attach to it will transform based on what it will allow us to experience or accomplish. Think Google.

A conversation today, no longer goes like this:

Woman 1: Where is Timbuktu?
Woman 2: Not Sure. I think it’s in Africa, but why don’t you check your optimized search engine.

Nope, instead that conversation would go like this:

Woman 1: Where is Timbuktu?
Woman 2: Not sure. Google it. (but perhaps you are using Bing etc)

The language around the development and creation of VR/AR is a real challenge as it seeps into a variety of industries. The workflow and functions needed to produce the multi-dimensional experiences are new.

I still remember the days of 3/4-inch tapes in the production of broadcast news. And how early in the digital revolution, it was straight-up punishment to get assigned to the digital media team that was shoved off to the hinterland and staffed by either first-jobbers or executives considered on their way out. It was a bad sign when your name was plucked. It was no sign of great things to come.

There is great irony here, of course, because innovation is a force like Mother Nature. It won’t be stopped. That unrealistic point of view that whatever is happening now is going to stay the same forever doesn’t stand up by any measurement. Our human curiosity will drive the future of VR/AR forward.

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